Last Saturday evening, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Asefi outlined his government’s position to the foreign media on a number of issues, beginning with Iran’s development of nuclear power.
He said Iran is ready to talk to the EU trio, France, Germany and the UK, about the Natanz nuclear site.
On the notion of the EU trio coming up with a new proposal over Iraq’s resumpton of its nuclear programme, Asefi said: ‘If there is such a new European proposal, it has not been submitted to Iran yet.
‘But, if they wish to change the earlier proposal, then they must add articles that the previous one lacked, that is, articles that did not refer to the Islamic republic’s rights.
‘If they do so, then we will study the new proposal, but there is no such thing on the agenda.’
Answering a question on the pending visit of IAEA head El-Baradei to Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said: ‘So far there is no such visit on our agenda.’
Replying to a question on the appointment of Ali Larijani as the new secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and whether he is going to change the trend of the talks with the EU trio, taking into account his earlier statement about the talks that ‘Iran gave pearl and received bonbon’, Asefi said: ‘Larijani should answer this question not me.
‘Up to now, the negotiating team with its prudence and self-control, has made good progress.
‘The endorsement of the eminent leader shows that the team has carried out it duties well.’
Asefi went on: ‘There were pressures, challenges and breach of promises, but these should not be attributed to the negotiating team.
‘One has to look at the other side’s performance.
‘Mr Larijani will diligently pursue the case in order to maintain Iran’s interests.’
The spokesman once again stressed that the Europeans violated the Paris agreement and added:
‘According to the Paris agreement Iran voluntarily suspended its activities at the Esfahan UCF and now has voluntarily resumed its work at the same site, and therefore, Iran has not violated the agreement.
‘European countries interpreted the Paris agreement in a way to maintain their own interests, but if they carefully study their own proposal to Iran, they will realize that the Islamic republic has not violated the agreement.’
Talking about the British government denying its involvement in disturbances in Iran, Asefi said: ‘The British government has not officially denied its involvement, and according to the British embassy in Tehran, the denial came from a state-run medium in Britain.
‘There is clear evidence and we have informed the British side about it, and we will pursue the case in order to avoid the occurrence of such incidents in the future.’
Responding to a question about UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s letter to President Ahmadinezhad, asking for the release of Akbar Ganji, Asefi said: ‘I saw the letter published in the newspapers, but I have not received any official information in this regard.’
When asked about new Iranian President Ahmadinezhad’s visit to New York, Asefi said: ‘The president’s plans and schedule will be announced a few days before his trip.
‘When our officials travel to New York, they try to take maximum advantage of their time.’
When asked if Ahmadinezhad were to speak about Iran’s nuclear programme in New York, Asefi said: ‘Is it possible for him to travel all the way to New York and not talk about the nuclear issue?’
Regarding Ahmadinezhad’s government and relations with America, Asefi said: ‘There is no possibility of establishing relations with America as long as Washington continues to treat the Islamic Republic of Iran with disrespect.’
When asked about the ever-increasing rumours regarding the expulsion of the British Ambassador Richard Dalton, Asefi said: ‘There is no truth to it.’
Asefi described the possibility of an American attack on Iran as ridiculous.
He said: ‘We have said it before and say it again, such threats are just a psychological warfare.
Americans know only too well that we will have more options than them in such a circumstance.’
Answering a question on US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld’s recent accusations against Iran’s role in Iraq’s domestic unrest, Asefi said: ‘We have already responded to all these issues and Mr Rumsfeld is talking nonsense.’
Asking how Iran could oppose a democratic state in Iraq, Asefi added: ‘Iraqi sources of emulation and different groups are united in this respect and Iran has always insisted that there should be a democratic state in Iraq.’
He stressed that Iran has always encouraged peace and calm in Iraq and added: ‘The presence of American forces in Iraq shows that they are incapable of restoring security in the country.’
Asefi added: ‘Mr Rumsfeld’s statements are to divert public attention from America’s inability to restore security in Iraq.
‘Furthermore, Iran has stressed time and again that it does not benefit from insecurity and unrest in Iraq and deems that country’s security the security of the region.’
Concerning the news that some Kurds are seeking the right to decide over secession from Iraq, Asefi stressed: ‘We support all measures that may help Iraq’s territorial integrity. At the same time, Iran condemns and will not tolerate any measure that may lead to Iraq’s disintegration.’
Concerning some Iranian officials’ statements about the sealing off of the Hormuz Strait if the West’s pressure builds up, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said: ‘Such statements have been quoted inaccurately and misinterpreted.’
Concerning Kuwait’s decision not to issue family visas for Iranian nationals, Asefi said: ‘I contacted the Kuwaiti embassy today and they did not confirm the news. If Kuwait announces such a decision, Iran will react accordingly.’
He also said that the news published about the arrest and punishment of some Foreign Ministry officials for taking part in election activities and providing financial assistance to some candidates is blatant lies.
Asefi added: ‘Foreign Ministry officials and directors did not provide any financial assistance to any election campaign and it is a pity that such news is published.’
Asefi concluded: ‘The Foreign Ministry has not filed a complaint against any publication so far.
‘However, since the privacy of individuals has been questioned, we have to defend individuals’ rights.’